CAMBRIDGE — Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House (R-GA) and current Republican candidate for president, appeared at Harvard University last night to introduce a documentary he helped create, “A City upon a Hill: The Spirit of American Exceptionalism,” at John F. Kennedy School of Government. But was soon interrupted by members of Occupy Boston and Occupy Harvard using the “mic check” call and response popular throughout the Occupy Movement.
The conservative non-profit organization Citizens United Productions is producer of this documentary and was the lead plaintiff in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” the 2009 Supreme Court case which resulted in unions and corporations being allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads. Citizens United produces a variety of media – from television ads to feature-length documentaries – and describes itself as being dedicated to “…American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.”
The protestors interrupting Gingrich used sarcastic mockery and said, in part, “Mic check / mic check / we love you Newt / thank you for standing up for corporations / they have rights too / thank you for understanding / that simple point / we are / the ninety-nine percent…”
Gingrich is the latest in a line of Right Wing figures (including Karl Rove, Michelle Bachmann and Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin) who have been “mic checked” by members of the Occupy protest in recent weeks. The male demonstrator leading the mic check in Cambridge, whose words were repeated by fellow protestors, seems to have been ad libbing his lines. This stands in contrast to interruptions in other states where protestors seem to have been reading prepared statements. Gingrich, standing with his wife, Callista, remained smiling and composed throughout the interruption but another person in attendance admonished the demonstrators by yelling “go back to your tents.”
Harvard security guards quickly removed the protestors. No arrests were made. Newt and Callista Gingrich where scheduled to sign copies of his book about American exceptionalism, “A Nation Like No Other,” at the Harvard Square Coop following his appearance at the Kennedy School. The cancellation of this appearance was celebrated on Twitter for several hours by Occupy supporters who tweeted messages such as “rare yellow-bellied newt sighting in Boston” and “@newtgingrich enjoy this while it lasts- you’ll never be this popular again!”